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Cover Guy: Pablo Hernandez

Sexy actor-turned-model turned-Instinct-cover boy Pablo Hernandez has landed some great gigs, but he hopes his greatest role might be his turn as a role model for young people struggling with their sexuality. 

 

When this month’s cover model, Pablo Hernandez, was a teenager, he felt deeply depressed. The Argentinean-born actor-turned-model, who relocated to Miami when he was 10 months old, had all the typical teen concerns—friends, school, girlfriend—but Pablo was also silently struggling with something much greater: the sexual attraction he felt toward men, feelings he thought would lead him to a life of misery. “I didn’t think that I would be able to have a life,” says Pablo, now 24. “Why come out of the closet if society doesn’t accept me? If they don’t let me get married, if they don’t let me adopt, if they don’t allow me the same rights that heterosexual couples have?”  

Like so many who’ve made headlines in the past couple of years after unsuccessfully struggling with their sexual orientations, Pablo felt little reason to go on and saw suicide as a way out of his misery. He says he took 10 prescription anti-epileptic pills—he had been diagnosed with epilepsy at 10—and cried himself to sleep. “I just hoped that I wouldn’t have to continue living with these feelings that I didn’t quite understand,” Pablo says. His sister, Lynn, found him unconscious the next morning in his bedroom. He was rushed by ambulance to Miami Children’s Hospital, where he had to be revived several times after his heart stopped beating. While in intensive care, Pablo had a series of seizures. When doctors discovered Pablo had overdosed, they asked him if it had been intentional. At first, the teen said it had been on purpose, but later recanted, saying he had taken so many pills at once, hoping to catch up because he had forgotten to take them a few days before. It’s a story Pablo has held on to—until now. Instinct has a way of getting to the truth. 

Pablo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Cuban immigrant parents Silvia and Reinaldo Hernandez, who had left Cuba to make sure their children were able to experience childhood the way it was meant to be: carefree.

“I am the person I am today because of them,” says Pablo, proudly. “Their struggles, their sacrifice, their work ethic, their love of equality and freedom. Because I recognize these great characteristics in my parents, I strive to be the best person I can be and do them proud.” Pablo’s parents moved to New York City in 1988. It didn’t take long for his mother to realize New York wasn’t the best place to raise her then-3-year-old daughter and 9-month-old baby boy. A month later, the couple moved to Miami, where they already had family. They’ve been there ever since. Pablo’s father has been a professor at Miami-Dade College for 20 years, and his mother, who studied Spanish and Russian in college, is a stay-at-home mom. 

After the suicide attempt, Pablo says his life got better—eventually—especially when he decided to come out at 17, first to his co-worker Christi at Pacific Sunwear. “I guess, at the time, it seemed like a good idea because she didn’t really know me,” says Pablo. “It was kinda the best way for me to test the waters and see how people would react.” 

Next, the “bisexual” teen came out to his girlfriend. “I thought she was going to flip out,” he says. “I remember her asking me, ‘Do you still love me?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ And she said, ‘Are you still sexually attracted to me?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Then she said, ‘Well, there’s no problem.’”

Pablo, who considers himself gay now—but doesn’t completely rule out women—says he and his girlfriend stayed together for a year after his coming-out. 

His father took the news just as well. “My father said to me, ‘You’re still my son. At the end of the day, what’s most important to me is that you’re my son and that you try to be a good human being,’” remembers Pablo. “I’m very fortunate,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons I respect and look up to my parents so much, and I aspire to be an amazing individual, just like them.”  

Read more about (and see more of!) Pablo in the February Issue of Instinct—out now!